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Atmos Alternatives

To better understand where Atmos fits in, it may be helpful to understand some of the alternative tooling it seeks to replace. There are lots of great tools out there and we're going through a bit of a "DevOps Rennisance" when it comes to creativity on how to automate systems.

General Alternatives

There are many tools in the general category of "task runners" or "workflow automation". Here are some of the alternatives to Atmos, many of which inspired core functionality in Atmos.

Make (Makefile) by Free Software Foundation

Many companies (including Cloud Posse) started by leveraging make with Makefile and targets to call terraform. Using make is popular method of orchestrating tools, but it has trouble scaling up to support large projects. We know this because Cloud Posse used it for 3+ years. The problems we ran into is that make targets do not support "natural" parameterization, which leads to a proliferation of environment variables that are difficult to validate or hacks like overloading make-targets and parsing them (e.g. make apply/prod). Makefiles are unintuitive for newcomers because they are first evaluated as a template, and then executed as a script where each line of a target runs in a separate process space. Spaces matter too and it's made worse with inconsistent rules using tabs in some places and spaces in others.

Mage (Magefile)

Mage is a make/rake-like build tool using native Golang and plain-old Go functions. Mage then automatically provides a CLI to call them as Makefile-like runnable targets.

Task (Taskfile)

Task is a task runner and build tool that aims to be simpler and easier to use than GNU Make.


Atmos supports native workflows that have very similar schema to "Taskfile", only they can be defined together with Stacks or as standalone workflow files.

Variant (second generation)

Variant lets you wrap all your scripts and CLIs into a modern CLI and a single-executable that can run anywhere.


The earliest versions of atmos were built on top of variant2 until we decided to rewrite it from the ground up in pure Go. Atmos supports native workflows which provide similar benefits.

AppBuilder by Choria

AppBuilder is a tool built in Golang to create a friendly CLI command that wraps your operational tools.


Atmos is heavily inspired by the excellent schema provided by AppBuilder and has implemented a similar interface as part of our subcommands.

Terraform Alternatives

There are many tools explicitly designed around how to deploy with Terraform.

The following is a list of tools that only support Terraform.

Atmos Differentiators

Atmos not only supports Terraform, but can be used to manage any CLI. For example, by combinging custom subcommands and workflows it's possible support any CLI tool (even the ones listed below) or even reimplement core functionality of atmos. That's how extensible it is.

Terragrunt by Gruntwork

Terragrunt is a tool built in Golang that is a thin wrapper for Terraform that provides extra tools for working with multiple Terraform modules.

Terramate by Mineros

Terramate is a tool built in Golang for managing multiple Terraform stacks with support for change detection and code generation.

Terraspace (Terrafile) by Bolt Ops

Terrapsace is a tool built in Ruby that provides an opinionated framework for working with Terraform.

Terraplate by Verifa

Terraplate is a tool built in Golang that is a lightweight wrapper for terraform the focused on code generation.

Astro by Uber (abandoned)

Astro is a tool built in Golang that provides a YAML DSL for defining all your terraform projects and then running them.

Opta by Run X

Opta is tool built in Python that makes Terraform easier by providing high-level constructs and not getting stuck with low-level cloud configurations.

pterradactyl by Nike

Pterradactyl is a library developed to abstract Terraform configuration from the Terraform environment setup.

Leverage by Binbash

The Leverage CLI written in Python and intended to orchestrate Leverage Reference Architecture for AWS